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Buffing and Polishing Compounds

How to Remove Metal Polishing Compounds

Metal polishing compounds and buffing compounds contain abrasives and lubricants that should be removed as soon as possible after the buffing operation. This is because heat generated by friction during the polishing operation causes residues to adhere strongly to metal surfaces. The longer polishing residues remain as parts cool the more tenacious they become. Quick removal is essential because residues degrade subsequent finishing operations such as painting or plating.

An ultrasonic cleaner is a quick, effective way to remove buffing and polishing residue.

An Ultrasonic Cleaning Procedure for Polishing Compounds

Ultrasonic cavitation works through the implosion of billions of microscopic bubbles in cleaning solution chemistries formulated for particular cleaning challenges. The bubbles, created by generator powered transducers vibrating at frequencies such as 25 kHz (25,000 cycles per second), implode with tremendous force against surfaces being cleaned to quickly and safely blast away all traces of polishing compounds. The process is particularly effective because it works on all metal parts immersed in the cleaning solution: compounds worked into tight spaces are removed as effectively as those on easily accessed surfaces.

A Procedure to Remove Metal Polishing Media

Select an ultrasonic cleaner with internal tank dimensions large enough to accommodate the parts. Keep in mind that the dimensions of baskets holding parts will be slightly smaller. Because parts must be completely immersed in the cleaning solution you must consider the working depth of the solution. This is the distance from the bottom of the cleaning basket to the surface of the solution.

Select an ultrasonic cleaner with a thermostat-controlled heater. This is because effective removal of buffing compounds is usually accomplished at between 70? and 80?C (160?and 180?F).

Select a unit having what is called a Sweep mode that provides a slight variation in ultrasonic frequency to produce more uniform distribution of cleaning energy throughout the solution. A cleaner with a Pulse mode delivers bursts of higher energy cavitation to remove more tenacious deposits.

A good cleaner to consider is the dual-frequency Elma X-tra basic series available in six tank sizes from 6 to 57 gallons. All models automatically operate on Sweep mode. Select 25 kHz to remove buffing compounds. Switch the unit to 45 kHz for ultrasonic cleaning operations such as degreasing machined or fabricated parts prior to buffing.

Cleaning solution chemistry selection may depend on the buffing compound employed. Contact iUltrasonic for Chem-Crest 275, a demulsifying phosphate- and silicate-free concentrate for ferrous metals, nickel chromium alloys and titanium. A recommended dilution is to 3 to 5% with water in a solution heated to 120? to 150?F (50? to 65?C). Note that the temperature of the cleaning solution must be high enough to melt adhering buffing waxes.

This formulation is also highly suitable for degreasing newly fabricated metal parts at 45 kHz.

4 Steps to Remove Metal Polishing Compound

Experience is the key here. We present these steps as an example using the Elma X-tra basic equipment. Remember that your cleaning solution should be ready and heated to receive freshly buffed parts before they cool.

1. Fill the tank with water and add the correct amount of Chem-Crest 275.

2. Turn on the Elma Xtra Basic unit at the 25 kHz frequency. Activate the pulse mode and set the thermostat to 60?C or the melting point of buffing compound waxes. Set and actual temperature are shown on the LED display. Allow the unit to operate for 5 to 10 minutes to degas the solution while it heats. Degassing removes trapped air and must be done each time you prepare a fresh bath.

3. Place buffed parts in the cleaning basket so they do not contact each other and lower the basket into the bath. Set the timer for 5 minutes. Set and actual time are shown on the LED display. Cleaning time depends on part size and degree of contamination. With experience you will develop a procedure. During parts cleaning buffing compounds float to the top of the solution where they can be skimmed off for disposal.

4. At the end of the cycle remove the basket and examine the parts. If satisfied rinse in hot water to remove cleaning solution residues then allow them to flash dry. To inhibit rusting of ferrous parts ask us for elma-KS to add in the correct amount to the rinsing water for temporary corrosion protection. Consider rinsing tanks and hot air dryers for large-scale operations.

When the cleaning solution loses effectiveness it must be replaced. Drain the tank and dispose of the solution according to local regulations. Clean the tank following user manual instructions then replace and degas a new bath.

Call the iUltrasonic cleaning professionals at 973-440-2191 for additional details on removing buffing and polishing compounds and to discuss equipment, options and solution chemistry's that best meet your needs.


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